By Stuart Swartzentruber
Living Hope Native Ministries is turning fifteen years old this year. How is that idea of partnership, doing these days? What have we learned? What kind of future does LHNM envision?
The working out of ideas, even God-given ideas, can easily lose their glitter as they get dragged through the dirt and debris of what we call “everyday life”. The last 15 years have not seen the complete fruition of all that we have hoped and longed for, but God’s desire for unity is like a compass pointing us the right direction.
I am encouraged as I see workers and churches partnering together, formally and informally, getting their hands dirty in the work of the kingdom. I see an increasing willingness among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Christ-followers alike, to walk together in humility. I have seen and experienced the courage it takes for a friend to describe to another how their actions shaped their lives in negative ways. Laying down one’s defenses and learning how to repent, forgive, and respect has built trust and ultimately, partnerships. Walking together is messy and not always fun. But it is worth it!
I see the vision of “we”, working out in the different churches and ministries LHNM is involved with. New Hope Church in Thunder Bay has an elder team made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members. The church body is made up of individuals from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I see such beauty and depth because of this. The youth of today excel in walking together as equals.
LHNM is listening to Indigenous leaders share with us the needs of their First Nations communities and how we can partner with them to build their communities and churches stronger. Teachers, nurses, and other professionals are needed to supplement the local, trained personnel. Christian professionals could become part of the community and churches as learners and encouragers without trying to be heroes.
Clarence Meekis, LHNM’s board chairman, along with the board, continues to flesh out the vision his father, Cello and others, had fifteen years ago. We believe God wants to continue to shape and change Living Hope Native Ministries. I hope fifteen years from now we will see a new generation of partners, Indigenous and others, involved on multiple levels. LHNM’s core values state that ”It is imperative that Indigenous and non-indigenous believers work together in unity - serving one another, and sharing resources so that the Kingdom of God will expand to every part of the world.”